“Excellence means representing the reputation of Christ well. It means doing all things
as best as you can and for us, it’s because it’s “as unto the Lord.” – Stephen Kendrick
Sherwood Pictures’ hit 2011 film ‘Courageous‘ is now available in DVD nationwide. The ‘Courageous Collector’s Edition’ DVD offers over two hours of bonus features, including the 22-minute ‘The Making of Courageous’, as well as a Casting Crowns music video and outtakes and bloopers, to name a few. Other extras include: Deleted Scenes, a Commentary by the Kendrick Brothers, Heart of ‘Courageous,’ The Story of My Father, ‘Courageous’ in 60 Seconds, A Church in Prayer, and The Importance of Fathers.
There are also special features featuring Mount Zion Baptist Church senior pastor Rev. Daniel Simmons (Role of a Lifetime), Sherwood Baptist Church senior associate pastor and musician Mark Willard (Ministering Through Music), and actress Erin Bethea (Serving Behind the Scenes), plus a Sherwood Pictures Retrospective, a feature on Sherwood Volunteers, and a Ministry and Resource Video to Guide Your Next Steps, and so much more.
“Courageous,” the much-awaited follow-up to the highly successful Sherwood Pictures’ produced film “Fireproof,” premiered on September 30, 2011. The film, produced by Stephen Kendrick, tells the story of five fathers who discover the true meaning of fatherhood as they go through life’s most difficult challenges. Starring and directed by Alex Kendrick, “Courageous” is distributed by TriStar Pictures and marketed by Provident Films and AFFIRM Films.
SCH Regular Contributor, Cheryl Wicker talks to Stephen Kendrick to learn more about the valuable lessons the movie offers and Kendrick’s deep faith and dedication in pushing Christian films out into the mainstream.
Cheryl Wicker: Could you give a quick summary of the movie, ‘Courageous’?
Stephen Kendrick: ‘Courageous’ follows the lives of five different fathers and their families, and their discoveries about what fatherhood is about. As they interact with the gangs in the local community, they realize that most of the kids that get involved in gangs don’t have their dads involved in their lives at all. Then, through a personal tragedy, one of the fathers comes to realize how important his role as a father is. So he begins to work with the other men in trying to figure out how to be a great dad. There’s more action in this movie than anything we’ve done before. You’re going to laugh, cry and be challenged.
CW: Why did you choose a story about fatherhood?
SK: We spent about a year praying [about this]. We had a lot of storyline ideas ourselves [and] other people were sending us their story ideas. But after about a year praying, there was just this clear direction. The leadership team believed that God was leading us to focus on fatherhood. If God is leading, then God will provide. So we begin to get storyline ideas that lined up with the subject of fatherhood that we’re working on and fitting, and we were thinking, okay this is good. At the same time, as we are studying scriptures and we’re on our journey as fathers, we are learning about fatherhood every day.
CW: How did your being a father yourself impacted on the film and how you envisioned it to be?
SK: I have four children. My brother Alex has six children and so those things are constantly on our minds. Plus, our own father has had a big impact in our lives and we are very grateful for that. We look around and see how many people have grown up without their dads involved in their lives or involved in a healthy way, and as a result, you see it impact every area of their lives because of the woundedness, the hurt, or the ignorance, and you know it’s related to that.
CW: How come Alex is the actor and you’re not? I mean, you seem to be a bit theatrical yourself.
SK: Yes, I can be. Alex has a gift in that area. I haven’t really pursued that very much. I haven’t seen a role that I feel like “that’s me”, or, “I need to be that” strongly. I do a little bit behind the scenes, like I was the Marine in the training scene in ‘Fireproof’ where I just walk up and stand there. But I have not been impressed with my own acting and so…
CW: Maybe it’s the stage acting…
SK: Yeah, I’m not trying to force something, but I do enjoy working behind the scenes and I do enjoy bringing all of the ingredients to the kitchen so that we can make the movie. Well, we’ll see what happens.
CW: You speak a lot about excellence. What does excellence mean to you as a Christian filmmaker?
SK: Excellence means representing the reputation of Christ well. It means doing all things as best as you can and for us, it’s because it’s “as unto the Lord”. If I am just doing it for my glory and myself, it’s a pretty small goal, but if I’m doing something as an offering unto the Lord, I want to give God my best. That affects all the major decisions we are making. It affects the quality of the cinematography or the acting. It affects the quality of the storyline itself and the morals or the message that’s being communicated.
CW: What did excellence mean to you when it came to your new project ‘Courageous’? How did you take this movie to another level?
SK: Well, excellence is a moving standard and with every one of our movies, we’ve tried to look at how we can improve every area and so we’ve gone to another level with cinematography. We went from the Panasonic Vericam 1080P camera to a RED 4K camera, which is almost four times the resolution in quality. We went from just a few locations to more visually rich locations, and we lifted the standards in our acting. In each key area, we tried to grow, improve, and learn and apply the lessons from the previous movies.
SK: We met in Nashville and Lifeway and we produced two different curricula that churches will be able to use. One is sold through their organization, and the other will be sold everywhere else. Alex and I have also written a book called, “The Resolution for Men”, and this was released around the nation. It was written as the next step for when men walk out of the theater wanting to make a commitment to being strong leaders.
CW: I know that you all put on some Christian filmmakers boot camps before. Are you planning on doing anything like that again in the future?
SK: We do them for the crew that’s making our movie. We train the people we bring in the week before we go into shooting and we will continue to do that. But we have been talking now about what we can do because we get a lot of people calling us saying, “Help me. You know, I just need four hours of your time…” We get that all the time and they’re constantly calling us saying they want to make movies and can we come down [to help]. So we thought it would be a blessing to them and to us if we group it all together and do, say, a weekend or so. We haven’t scheduled a date or name or anything but we know that’s probably coming.
CW: I know you’re very good at mentoring other filmmakers. What encouragement would you give to a young filmmaker who’s trying to get into making films for Christians?
SK: Fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and if they will fear God it will help them make better decisions in everything they do.
Secondly, get in God’s word every day. God’s word equips us for everything we do. Our understanding of Scripture impacts our writing, our directing, our producing, our editing in the way we promote the messages of the movie. It literally constantly affects the decisions that we make and helps us in a positive way.
And then, start small. You start with a two- or five-minute short and work your way up. Don’t try to tackle a two-hour feature movie as your first project. Cut your teeth on a smaller level and work through the kinks at that level and build your strength as you go. That’s what we have to do and the people I see try to jump too far, try to take own too much too soon. They haven’t learned the hard lessons of leadership and filmmaking on a smaller level and it comes back to get them later on.
Republished with permission from Examiner.com
Mr. Kendrick, I hope this comment finds it’s way to you. I have loved everything you have done. The uplifting and inspirational message it sends is a true blessing. God has truly given you a great talent and it’s wonderful that you’ve had the opportunity to share it with others to given them encouragement. I’m sending this to you because I have a daughter who is in the film industry. Lots and lots of auditions, a few jobs, and lots of rejection. She has a great attitude about it though and never seems to get discouraged (I don’t know how she does it) She is 21 years old now and enrolled in the University of New Orleans. While she lost her brother 7 years ago, she has a deep faith and belief in Jesus Christ. She goes into each audition prepared and gives 200% but realizes several actors are going for the same role. All she can do is her best and offer it to God. She truly believes that when a part comes along that God wants her to have she will have it. I am sooo glad you and others like you are providing good family entertainment. Dani and I always talk about values, morals, and ethics. She would consider it very unprofessional to ask you this but, and I hope you do not look on this negatively, I would appreciate you keeping her in mind if you are ever auditioning for a 15 year old to early 20’s. I’m not asking that you give her a part but a chance to read for a part would be great. The film industry can be one of poor moral values and I would like for her to have the chance to audition for something that her grandparents would be able to watch. I know you are very busy but if you have time to send a response I would appreciate it. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I look forward to hear from you when you get the chance. Thank you, Kathy